Pollution episode in River Lagan is to be investigated

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) has committed to carrying out a further investigation into an alleged pollution incident on the River Lagan.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 10:31 am
The River Lagan at Dromore. File photo

The spill, which appeared to be of red diesel, occurred on the weekend of March 13th near Dromore, and prompted an NIEA Senior Water Quality Inspector to attend the area to carry out an initial investigation.

Following the inspection, it was confirmed that there was oil entering the river and seemed to be coming from a drainage pipe further downstream.

The NIEA said absorbent booms were deployed to contain as much of the spillage as possible and to minimise the impact of the discharge on the river.

However, Alliance Councillor Sorcha Eastwood said appropriate action needed to taken against anyone who caused pollution in rivers and waterways.

She added: “Oil especially can damage the waterproofing on the feathers of ducks and birds meaning that they can no longer fly in some instances and they can die from this.

“The Water Framework Directive is to be reviewed in 2021 and the River Lagan itself in many parts of Lagan Valley has not achieved an overall status of ‘Good’.

“Whilst some good work has been done to improve the water quality of the Lagan, it still has some way to go.

“It is incumbent on businesses, farmers and the public to do everything in their power to look after our waterways and I will continue to work with them and community and voluntary organisations to address the issue of pollution.”

A spokesperson for the NIEA said officials would continue to monitor the situation to identify if any specific environmental issues have resulted.

“Incidents of this nature, whilst significant, tend to be short lived and do not have a long term impact on a river the size of the River Lagan where this discharge occurred,” a NIEA statement said.

“The works carried out to contain and restrict the volume of diesel lost and the dispersal effects of the river itself will have served to limit the environmental impact.

“From the investigation, the Inspector confirmed the source of the diesel and requested that the company involved took appropriate action to clean up the spill on their premises.”

The statement added: “NIEA will continue to monitor the remedial and pollution prevention measures put in place to ensure that they are fit for purpose and will be considering any further action in line with NIEA enforcement policy.”